A Ugandan official says six heads of state and government from the Great Lakes region will hold talks today (Friday) on establishing a joint intelligence-sharing center for the region.
The leaders are attending the 5th ordinary summit of heads of state and government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), underway in Uganda?s capital, Kampala.
The agenda, say diplomats, includes consideration of the application of the Republic of South Sudan for membership to the ICGLR, the political and security situation of member states and the appointment of the new executive secretary of the regional bloc.
?[The heads of state and government] will also be looking at a proposal to establish an intelligence fusion center in Goma [DRC], share information [and] actionable intelligence with regards to the negative forces,? said Mugume.
The permanent secretary for Uganda?s foreign affairs ministry, Ambassador James Mugume, says the new ?Intelligence Fusion Center? would provide information to help combat armed insurgent groups, including the rebel groups the Interahamwe and the Lord?s Resistance Army (LRA).
The LRA is accused of killing, maiming and abducting tens of thousands of civilians since the 1980s in the remote central African jungle, which includes parts of the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, in addition to their original stronghold in western Uganda.
In October President Barack Obama deployed 100 Special Forces troops to the region to act as advisers to help forces of the four affected countries develop the military skills to end the long-running conflict.
Ambassador Mugume says the Special Forces will play a critical role in helping with the intelligence fusion center.
?The Obama initiative supports the regional effort by both the Great Lakes and the AU (African Union),? said Mugume. He said the U.S. support complements regional and continental efforts in dealing with the ?LRA, which is a threat to regional peace and security.?
?[The heads of state] are proposing a coordination mechanism so that U.S. support will be coordinating with both the Joint Operation Unit under the AU and the information-sharing fusion center so as to track down and identify the whereabouts [of rebels].?
?This is an area which has shown that we can work together: Central African Republic, South Sudan, DRC and Uganda with regards to the LRA; DRC and Rwanda with regards to the Interahamwe negative forces in the DRC,? said Mugume.
He also says the heads of state have expressed commitment to eliminating activities of armed groups to ensure regional peace and stability.